National Wildlife Refuge System

First Ever National Friends Policy

Friends Forward February 2014

The national Friends policy is intended to help refuges achieve their mission through partnerships with Friends organizations.
Credit: Friends of Alaska Refuges

The first ever national Friends policy is expected to be published in its final form in the Federal Register before the end of March. The policy will enable the Refuge System to achieve its mission more effectively by increasing community involvement through partnerships with nonprofit Friends organizations.

The policy offers guidance on the relationship between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends; Service employee responsibilities; financial and administrative practices; nature store management; and a new Friends Partnership Agreement template.  National Friends coordinator Joanna Webb says the policy “will provide clarity and national consistency in working with Friends, but may require some changes in the way we work with Friends organizations to ensure that we operate in the highest standards of efficiency and ethical conduct.”

The policy was finalized only after thorough review of more than 500 public comments as well as numerous Service briefings and reviews. Highlights of the final policy include:

  • Clear definition of Friends organizations as compared to other community partners
  • Differentiation between Friends and Service volunteer activities
  • Service employee participation on Friends boards and in the operation of Friends organizations
  • New requirements for Friends nature stores on Service-managed property (These stores must be the responsibility of the Friends organization and minimize the role of Service employees in the day-to-day operations and overall management.)
  • Lobbying and gambling restrictions when activities take place on Service-managed property
  • Friends use of Service facilities and logos
  • Friends charging and collecting recreation program fees
  • Friends fundraising on Service-managed property
The new Friends policy will clarify roles and responsibilities to improve partnerships between Friends and Service staff. At the recently established Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, NM, Friends president Teri Jillson joins refuge manager Jennifer Owen-White and New Mexico State Senator Michael Padilla.
Credit: Katie Jillson

The policy will be available on the Refuge System Friends Web site ( as soon as it has been published in the Federal Register. Conference calls, FAQs, webinars and emails will be used to announce and explain the new policy.  Questions may be directed to


Back to Friends Forward Index

Last updated: February 13, 2014